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Christopher Abbot
Fanfare, January 2013

With this release, Markus Stenz completes the first half of his Mahler symphony cycle…There are several Mahler symphony cycles in progress or recently completed. This series on Oehms, though, offers more by way of interpretive detail and sound production.

Stenz’s is a broadly paced opening, with off-stage trumpets providing an excellent sense of acoustic space and depth. The theme based on “Ging heut Morgen” has freshness rather than exuberance at the arrival of morning. The orchestral climax at the end of the movement is truly impressive. The second movement is forceful without becoming too impulsive or propulsive, exuding confidence more than swagger. The trio section has the lilt of the dance about it, an elegant intermezzo in the midst of the bustle of the main theme.

The double bass solo that opens the third movement is mournful and just a touch sour, as it should be. Stenz’s funeral march keeps up a steady pace without feeling sluggish…There is a real klezmer swing to the “Hungarian” music, and the band that follows is crisp rather than pompous. The “Wayfarer” song theme is poignant and not a bit saccharine. The opening of the fourth movement fits perfectly Mahler’s description of the “outcry of a deeply wounded heart.” The progress from Inferno to Paradise is dramatic yet full of Mahlerian pauses and sighs. The first, deceptive trumpet and horn chorale is as convincing as the final one on many other recordings, while the actual “Paradise” chorale crowns a thoroughly satisfying performance.

Those seeking a Mahler cycle in excellent SACD multichannel sound need look no further than this one on Oehms… © 2013 Fanfare Read complete review

Roger Hecht
American Record Guide, January 2013

The most impressive aspects of the Markus Stenz recording are the beautiful glow of the Gurzenich Orchestra, the great sound with its powerful bass and excellent placement of the distant effects, and a controlled reading that is straightforward, well sustained, and no-nonsense. © 2013 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide online

John Quinn
MusicWeb International, November 2012

…Stenz offers a clear-eyed, fresh reading. The episode that flows from the ‘Ging heut Morgen übers Feld’ melody flows very nicely, with innocent charm and Stenz imparts life and energy into the music. A little later (from about 8:23) the slower passage with its fragments of chirping themes is well balanced and controlled.

The gawky scherzo is well sprung, the rhythms strongly articulated. The Ländler trio (3:20—5:46) is graceful and affectionate with some nice woodwind detail and string portamenti.

The finale bursts into life…[Stenz’] performance is exciting and, as the movement unfolds, has much to commend it. The long, romantic D flat melody (from 3:41) is beautifully spun at first and gradually builds to a strong climax. The return of the opening maelstrom (7:12) is fast and furious and Stenz is very impressive in the following pages. The passage from about 10:50 to 15:20, during which Mahler revisits both the material from the very opening of the symphony and also the finale’s D flat melody is well done; Stenz generates a good atmosphere hereabouts and then the short string fugal passage at 15:20 is fast and urgent. The final few minutes blaze and the bass drum roll that underpins the closing bars adds an exciting point of detail.

There’s much to appreciate in this recording of the First symphony…It’s a good addition to Markus Stenz’s cycle. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Robert Benson, September 2012

Stenz is now recording a Mahler cycle with the Gürznich Orchestra, and has now completed the first five. Like others in the series, the new issue of Symphony No. 1 is insightful and beautifully played, well-recorded as well. © 2012 Read complete review

Jean-Yves Duperron
Classical Music Sentinel, August 2012

Long has it been since I’ve heard such a vigorous, nervy, energetic and muscular interpretation of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 in D major. Conductor Markus Stenz leads a performance that quite literally exposes the raw nervous power of life’s youthful energy contained in every note of this wonderful early symphony by Mahler.

I have been following this Mahler Symphony cycle of recordings on Oehms Classics very closely, and I must admit that so far I’ve been very impressed, with both the recording quality and the conductor’s stance on Mahler. Thus far, Markus Stenz has done a magnificent job with the first 5 symphonies, the somewhat “brighter” ones. I for one can’t wait to see how well he can change his colors with the remaining “darker” works. © 2012 Classical Music Sentinel Read complete review

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